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State track and field: East Valley’s Scott Kopcznski takes 1,600M title

TACOMA – Don’t get Scott Kopcznski wrong. He was delighted to win a state championship Thursday.

The East Valley junior wanted his friend Chad Stevens, also a junior, to finish right behind him in the State 2A 1,600-meter final.

Kopcznski finished in a time of 4 minutes, 15.96 seconds – .15 short of his personal best. Stevens was edged at the finish line and took third.

Star Track XXXII began the first of three days for the 4A, 3A and 2A teams at Mt. Tahoma High School.

“It feels good but what we were going for was 1-2,” Kopcznski said. “I was feeling really good after the first lap so I went for it.”

Kopcznski said the first lap was slower than he wanted.

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Kopcznski said of the title.

He will be in the 3,200 and 1,600 relay on Saturday.

Jonah Jordan of Mead has had the smallest of incremental improvements all season in the shot put. But standing atop the podium overshadowed everything.

Jordan, who is headed to play football at Eastern Washington University, was victorious with a throw of 55 feet, ¾ inch.

The winning throw came on his first attempt.

“I’ve been working for it for four years,” Jordan said. “It was the ultimate goal. But I wanted to make Mead’s all-time top 10 list and I was about a half a foot short.”

Jordan will turn his attention next to the discus. He improved his personal best by 7 feet at regionals.

“I think I can do it,” Jordan said of pulling off a title sweep. “I’ve been putting them out there in practice.”

Tanner Anderson of North Central won’t be pulling off the triple crown he desired.

He won the 3A state title in cross country last fall and is the defending champ in the 3,200. In the 1,600 Thursday, he got boxed in among five runners near the end of the first lap and didn’t have any speed the final lap.

John Dressel of Mt. Spokane took third (4:10.95) and Anderson was fourth (4:12.99). Andrew Vandine of NC was fifth (4:13.92). Joe Hardy of Seattle Prep won easily (4:07.73).

“I knew it was an ambitious goal,” Anderson said of the triple crown. He’ll be out to defend his 3,200 title on Saturday.

Brittany Aquino of EV took third in the 3A 1,600 (5:01.22).

In easily the most impressive final, junior Alexa Efraimson of Camas set a national high school record in the 1,600, winning in 4:33.29. The previous record, 4:33.82, was set in 2008.

Efraimson ran the fastest 1,600 in the nation last week (4:37.85) before lowering her personal best Thursday.

And she did it running alone. She won by well over 100 meters.

“Running by myself is one of the hardest things to do,” Efraimson said. “I wanted to hit 4:34. The whole season I’ve focused on running by myself.”